Garrett-Evangelical News

Meet Brian Smith

Brian Smith Dec. 2014Name: Brian E. Smith, Sr.

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois (Englewood Community)

Degree Program: Master of Divinity

Why did you choose Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary?
I chose Garrett-Evangelical because my congregation has a longstanding history with the institution and I was familiar with its practices and culture. I have a pastor’s heart and I appreciated Garrett-Evangelical’s emphasis upon practical ministry. Garrett-Evangelical trains students to become preachers, teachers and leaders in the church.

What are you planning on doing after you graduate from Garrett-Evangelical?
I am planning to serve as a pastor or assistant pastoral leader in the Baptist Church. I intend to pursue post-graduate education opportunities and I would like to serve with organizations that focus upon international ecumenical relations or economic development.

I have always had a keen interest in building cross-cultural and religious partnerships on an international level. I also come from an entrepreneurial family, which has sparked my interest in assisting with the development of both labor and business, especially in underserved communities. Garrett-Evangelical confirmed my passion and calling to tend to the full flourishing of communities both in terms of their spiritual well being and their socio-economic advancement.

Which of the three chapel services is your favorite and why?
I am perhaps biased towards the Wednesday evening Gospel service in terms of my favorite worship experience simply because it is one I am most familiar with. I love soulful music and worship. However, I also enjoy the Tuesday Word and Table service because Holy Communion is offered at every gathering. In my own Baptist tradition, communion is served only once on the first Sunday of each month.

What has been the most influential worship service you have attended Garrett-Evangelical and why?
I have attended numerous worship services but the most impactful service that I can recall is the Word and Table service in which Dr. Stephen Ray preached from the Exodus passage describing the moment when Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the Red Sea. This service was held in the context of the killing of Mike Brown. Dr. Ray’s message was profound and clear: Don’t take on the ways of your oppressor. Given the recent grand jury decisions not to indict the killers of unarmed black men, it is imperative for Christians to actively respond to evil without hatred in our hearts. This is not an easy task but Dr. Ray reminded us that we must always strive to reach our higher calling; to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

In what ways have you assisted in either the planning or taking part in the chapel services?
I have preached at a number of services and I have ministered through singing in chapel. Every experience is unique and informative, particularly in the traditional formats that are outside of my own worship style. I have learned to appreciate the variety of expressions and even incorporate some of those elements into my own worship practices. I am comfortable in a variety of settings and it brings me joy to know that I have an extended family in the body of Christ.

Do you have any advice for students who are currently applying to seminaries and going through the discernment process to find out which seminary is right for them?
I advise prospective seminarians to pay close attention to their passionate responses in life. Pay attention to the things that make you excited. Even your negative emotions provide clues in terms of your calling. Don’t underestimate your abilities or God’s ability to work through you. If you are an older established professional seeking a change in your career, recognize that God can and will use everything that you have experienced for God’s glory. Be patient with yourself and remember that God is never in a hurry. Remember that God is always present but quite often we are the ones who are absent from God.

Student Stories: A Cross-Cultural Field Education Experience

Kyle ReynoldsField education is a key component of the Master of Divinity curriculum at Garrett-Evangelical. It gives students the opportunity to discern, test, and refine their call as they apply their seminary education in real life ministry settings. While many of our students serve in traditional parish settings throughout the Chicagoland area, third year M.Div. student, Kyle Reynolds of Olathe, Kansas, decided to venture a little farther away from Chicago for his field education placement. This past summer, Kyle served at Wesley Methodist Church in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He also participated in classes at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where students from all over South Africa attend to become full-time ministers in the Methodist Church of South Africa. We recently sat down with Kyle to talk to him about his field education experience.

How did you decide to go to South Africa for your field education?

I was looking for something non-traditional to do as a field placement, and I knew I needed to do something over the summer. Garrett-Evangelical already had connections there, and I knew it was an opportunity like no other. The people at Seth Mokitimi were extremely welcoming and very eager to have me.

What was your involvement with Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary?

I spent two weeks with the students in what is called “vocational intensive.” Students basically learn all the things you need to learn for ministry that you don’t learn in a normal classroom setting. The entire student body learns together, and the focus of this specific session was missions. We learned what the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) was doing on the larger structural level, what missions look like for the local congregation, and what missions look like for the seminary. I spent a few weeks attending classes like a normal student, which gave me a feel for what seminary students in South Africa were learning and a glimpse of what theological education looks like through a South African perspective.

Where did you do your practical ministry experience, and what were your roles?

I spent two weeks working in Wesley Methodist Church, which is a middle-class white congregation there in Pietermaritzburg. I preached, I attended and lead Bible studies, and I was a liturgist on Sunday mornings. In one week we were in five different schools, leading devotionals for staff, praying for students and leading devotionals for them too. The congregation was very proactive about being involved in the community, and that is something that really stuck with me.

If pastors in the U.S. would commit to taking on one public role (visiting prisoners, visiting firefighters, visiting teachers before classes start, going into a business area and leading a devotional over lunch), we would see a lot of change in our communities and in our churches. Pastors in South Africa were ministering wherever they could, wherever doors were open. Every time they walked through one of those doors, it seemed like two more opened.

What is something from your experience that you have found has really affected your classes here at Garrett-Evangelical?

My cultural awareness has grown significantly since I’ve been at Garrett-Evangelical. Becoming immersed in another culture and hearing critical opinions about the United States, even if most of them were true, were challenging and powerful experiences.  They gave me the opportunity to get a glimpse of the world through someone else’s lens, which has made me much more sensitive to culture and context in any conversation we have in seminary. It has also shown me the importance of being careful about making absolute statements about one’s understanding of God. I have learned to take a step back and reflect and realize the smallness of my context.

Has this affected your calling in ministry or your goals in ministry?

It allowed me to broaden my understanding of what the title of pastor entails. I don’t know that the people I met were doing anything totally different from what some are doing in the U.S., but I had never seen it before. All of the practical ministry experiences I had there broadened my scope of what ministry can include. It also built connections that I believe will last a really long time.

What is the best advice you can give to people who are currently looking at potential seminaries?

Learn everything you can about a school’s field education program. How flexible are they? What does a normal field placement look like? What are the requirements? What structure is in place? Are there churches and agencies they have long-standing relationships with? Are there new sites being added regularly? Can you go to a context that is not your own? That’s why I wanted to go to South Africa. I wanted to experience something completely different than what I have grown up in or what I may or may not be doing for the rest of my life. That’s also why I chose Garrett-Evangelical for my theological education. None of this would have been possible without the Seminary’s remarkable field education department and resources and for that I remain grateful.

Meet Michael Weaver

michael weaverHometown:
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio; Currently living and working in Middlebury, Indiana

Home church:
I was born and raised in The United Methodist Church and am currently serving as director of youth ministries and worship leader at the United Methodist Church in MIddlebury.

Degree program: 
Master of Divinity

Other degrees:
Bachelor of arts in church music and minor in theatre/drama, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Mount Vernon, Ohio

Formative experiences:
Being raised in the church was an important formative experience in my life. I also was blessed with two different summer church internships while I was an undergraduate. They allowed me to see what really goes on "behind-the-scenes" of experiences at Garrett-Evangelical. Since I am still working, the distance was important, and it was also important that the seminary was sensitive to the challenges of commuting students with respect to scheduling and programs. I was very impressed when I visited and with the contact I had with the school after my visit. They really listened to what I had to say and were able to help me stay connected with the seminary and to people I met there.

Plans for the future:
I am still in the process of discernment, but right now I feel that I am being called into youth/young adult and creative arts ministries. I want to continue to help youth and young adults come to know Jesus, but I also want to continue to use my musical and theatrical abilities.

Meet Cora Glass

Cora GlassHometown: Pontiac, MI

Home church: First United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Michigan

Degree program: Master of Divinity

Other degrees: Bachelor of arts in nonprofit leadership and management

Formative experiences:
In seventh grade, my church held a contest to see which youth could raise the most money for the CROP walk, a charity walk for hunger and poverty relief. The prize for the contest was a chance to see The Sound of Music on stage at the FOX Theater in Detroit. I loved The Sound of Music, so I decided to send letters to all my friends and family asking for donations. Along the way, I learned more about the impact I was making for hungry and impoverished people around the world. This became the catalyst for my involvement in missions. This love for the church's work in our world is my motivation toward pursuing ordained ministry.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: Over the years, I have been mentored by many Garrett-Evangelical graduates. Many of these pastors have a passion for missions and community. When I began looking for a seminary to attend, I knew Garrett-Evangelical would be a place that would nurture my call. The seminary's location also provides great opportunities to work in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

Plans for the future:
I feel called to become an ordained elder. This will allow me to help inspire congregations towards deeper relationships with God and community. I desire to help churches reach out and provide for the spiritual, emotional, and material needs of their community.

Meet Octavius Wilson

 MG 0032 copy copyHometown: Chicago, Illinois

Home church: Carter Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Chicago

Degree program: Master of divinity

Other degrees: Bachelor of arts in business administration

Formative experiences: Truthfully, I have had many experiences that can be attributed to accepting Christ in my life and my call to service. The one that really stands out to me was an experience in 2007 when I lost one of my closest friends to gun violence. Growing up on the south side of Chicago was filled with challenges. Young people are faced with the temptations of drugs, gangs, and dropping out of school. Even my friends and I made some bad decisions and ended up affiliated with the gangs in the neighborhood. Because of this decision from our childhood, one of my friends ended up losing his life. Unfortunately, I was there to watch him breathe his last breath.

This incident changed my life. It made me appreciate life more than I ever had in the past. The experience also gave me a passion for people who are influenced and affected by gangs. This tragedy eventually led me to God, and now I am serving at a church in the inner city as the youth pastor. The challenges I have had in my life make me want to help those faced with the similar challenges make the right decisions in their lives. It is my goal to see our youth survive, and ministry is the avenue in which this will happen. It is my hope that the seminary will refine my gifts so that I can be even more effective in saving lives.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: What attracted me to Garrett-Evangelical was my first cousin, Rev. Dr. George Wilson. He is an alumnus of this school and spoke with such high regard of the faculty and the program at this seminary. Since I have been here, everything he said has been true. I am extremely glad to be matriculating at Garrett-Evangelical.

Plans for the future: It is my dream to one day be the CEO of a community center that provides a space for spiritual, mental, and physical health development for children, youth, and adults. It is my hope that there will be more than one facility and that each will be placed in a community that is in need of change, socially and economically. It is my vision that these facilities will be a form of the church that is less traditional, but just as effective in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ by being the light in the midst of darkness.

Meet Paul Ortiz

Ortiz PaulHome state: California

Home church: Urban Village Church, Chicago, Illinois

Degree program: Master of Divinity

Formative experiences: My earliest memories of church life are in little storefront buildings located in the California barrios where I grew up. Growing up in the Hispanic/Latino(a) Pentecostal tradition, the songs we sang and the sermons I heard were mostly in Spanish, and as a result the theology was often in Spanish, too. By this I mean that I was presented with a God that was involved with the struggles of the poor Hispanic families of my childhood congregations. My journey since has taken me to non-denominationalchurches and recently to The United Methodist Church.
 
Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: I have found Garrett-Evangelical to be theologically progressive and evangelical at the same time. This combination is important to me. I believe that the future of the church is a blend of the passionate spirit of the Evangelical Church along with the bigger theological outlook that often categorizes mainline Protestantism.

Plans for the future: I have been part of Urban Village Church since 2010 and was a church planting intern for over a year. I have recently transitioned to student pastor at a bilingual United Methodist Church, El Redentor Del Calvario/Redeemer of Calvary. I dream about church planting in Hispanic/Latino(a) neighborhoods and experimenting with new ways of doing church. Many Hispanic/Latino(a) people from my generation identify as religious “nones.” I desire to minister to those whom have been disillusioned or even hurt by the church.

 

Meet Whanhee Oh

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.13.50 PMHometown: Incheon, South Korea

Home church: Dongsoo Methodist Church, South Korea

Program: Master of Theological Studies

Other degrees: Bachelor’s degree in theology from Methodist Theological University, Seoul, South Korea

Formative experiences
Just before completing my undergraduate studies, I took time off because I was desperate to find my dream. During the break, I tried everything that I had always dreamt of, including working at a clothing store, learning how to dance and swim, and getting different certification licenses. Then, I packed my bag and went backpacking for the first time by myself to Europe. It was the most terrific experience and helped me find my interests and passion. After traveling, I became more independent. I realized that I need to study more. I was determined to study abroad and followed what my mind said. I am thankful to be part of the Garrett-Evangelical family.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical
Every week, I have experienced surprising grace and comfort from worship services at the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful. Especially when I attend the Holy Communion, I feel true communal relationships with Christ and with the community. Not only at the chapel, but also in the classroom, I am learning how to make worship a lifestyle with great friends at the seminary. I was surprised at the strong sense of community and fellowship at Garrett-Evangelical. Many people are dedicated to building a good community for the world.

Plans for the future
I think God calls me to bring my friends to church and to worship God together. One day, I hope all my friends, their family members and children, and I will gather as a worshiping community and share our faith journeys in Christ. In order to make it possible, art is a very important means and resource in my liturgical studies and calling.

Meet Katye Dunn


Dunn websiteHometown: Little Rock, Arkansas

Home church: Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, Little Rock

Degree program
: Master of divinity

Other degrees:
Bachelor of fine arts in dance performance and bachelor of arts in religious studies from Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dallas

Formative experiences: I am a born and bred Southern girl who loves dance, sports, and a good cup of coffee. My family and my friends are the most important things in the world to me, and it has been a good day if I have laughed out loud and given at least one person a hug. During my college years, focused on a career in concert dance and musical theatre, I started volunteering with the youth ministry at my home church during holiday and summer breaks. I found so much peace and joy and discovered that God could use me (little old ME) as I went on mission trips with youth in parts of rural Arkansas, led bible study at Starbucks with a group of middle school girls, and built one-on-one relationships with the students, getting to know their hearts and stories – walking with them on the journey of faith. By the time I graduated from SMU, I had gone from not seeing myself doing anything other than performing on stage to not seeing myself doing anything other than youth ministry.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: All of the puzzle pieces came together here at Garrett-Evangelical. Living in the South my whole life, I wanted to experience a different part of the country, and I wanted to be close to Chicago’s vibrant music, dance, and theater scene. Pursuing ordination as a deacon in the The United Methodist Church, it was important to me that Garrett-Evangelical is a place that is open and welcoming to students discerning that call. If all of that wasn’t enough, doing my campus visit and meeting the amazing students and administration was all the confirmation I needed that I would fit right in here.

Plans for the future: As long as God will let me, I plan to serve as an ordained youth minister in the local church.

Meet Austin Rinehart

austin rinehartName
Austin Rinehart

Hometown
Sterlington, Louisiana

Home church
Noel Memorial United Methodist Church, Shreveport, Louisiana

Degree program
Master of divinity

Other degrees
Bachelor of Arts, Centenary College of Louisiana

Formative experiences
I’ve had many formative experiences in my life, but one of the more recent ones happened in the summer of 2012. I was selected as a fellow for the Fund for Theological Education. As per the requirements of the fellowships, I attended a conference in Nashville, Tennessee, with the other fellows for a four-day experience on the campus of Vanderbilt University. A wide array of theological backgrounds and a diversity of denominations were represented within this group, including United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Roman Catholic, and non-denominational as well. Being in the presence of such great minds and great theological conversations really brought home the understanding of the Body of Christ. We might not all think alike, look alike, love the same persons, or profess the same faith, but we all are united under the love and grace of God. For someone like me, who loves interdenominational and interfaith dialogue, this was a mountain top experience that allowed me to encounter something I am very passionate about in a tangible way. 

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical
When looking towards seminary, I narrowed down my search to two United Methodist schools, Garrett-Evangelical being one of those. I ultimately chose Garrett-Evangelical because of its commitment to social justice, progressive theology, and a deep concern for the student. From the very first moment I stepped on campus, I felt at home. I felt connected in a way that I did not feel at other schools I visited. I was instantly attracted to the wonderful professors, challenging curriculum, and interactive classroom experiences. I can fully say with confidence that Garrett-Evangelical has been everything I was hoping and wishing for in a seminary experience.

Plans for the future
I feel a deep connection and call back to my conference, the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church. I really feel like God is calling me to be a leader there and to be an agent of change. Our conference is doing some wonderful things, and with a new episcopal leader, Bishop Cynthia Harvey, it is positioned for the future. I feel called to play a crucial part in that future. I am currently a certified candidate for the elder track, and I plan to be ordained as soon as I finish my time here at Garrett-Evangelical.

Meet Thomas Yang

Thomas Yang CropHometown
Glenview, IL

Home Church & Denomination
Trinity United Methodist Church (Wilmette, IL)
The United Methodist Church

Degrees
Bachelor of Arts, Illinois Wesleyan University (2010)
Major: Biology, Religion

Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year
Candidate for Master of Divinity (2014)
Concentration: Theology

Background Information
I am a second-generation Korean-American and proud of both my ethnic and nationalistic identities. Aside from the rigors of academia and congregational needs from my field education site, I prefer spending my free time outdoors and being active. I enjoy running and playing volleyball. In fact, I ran my first marathon this summer. I also helped organize a free open gym, which provides access for people in the community to socialize, gather, and play volleyball and basketball.

Calling
I heard the beginnings of my calling to seminary, and ministry, in college. My background in the humanities primed me to critically think about God, the Church, and Christian living. Life took a series of twists and turns, and I found myself working in children’s and youth ministries. The genuine questions proposed by curious students resonated with me and fueled my enthusiasm for nurturing a healthy and formative spiritual environment. As I reflected upon these life experiences, my calling into ministry clarified.

Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical
I was attracted to Garrett-Evangelical’s emphasis on preparing individuals for ministry without neglecting the value of a solid theological education. Upon arriving to Garrett-Evangelical, I was impressed with the community’s efforts in valuing and fostering hospitality to its students and faculty; the sense of community and hospitality truly is palpable. Each semester, I come to appreciate more and more the meticulous thought and care that professors give to the classroom experience. I am encouraged by their dedication and desire for their students to integrate their education to their life and ministry settings.

Career Plans
I am currently in the ordination process in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church and look forward to serving the parishes in my conference.

 

Meet Ornella Umubyeyi

NameOrnella full
Ornella Umubyeyi

Hometown
Kigali- Rwanda

Age
23

Home Church & Denomination
Zion Temple Celebration Center- Nondenomination

Degrees
Religion & Leadership Studies, Ripon College, Wisconsin

Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year
Masters in Pastoral Care & Counseling, 1st Year

Background Information
I was born in Burundi, later on my parents moved in Rwanda. I am the second oldest of a family of four girls and one boy. I went to high school in Massachusetts and then attended college in Ripon, Wisconsin. I graduated in May and immediately enrolled at Garrett-Evangelical. My parents still live and work in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.

I speak French, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, and English fluently and have a decent understanding of Swahili. I enjoy movies and music. I like to travel and meet new people. I look quiet and shy to most people but I can be silly and extrovert most of the time!

I recently started a Christian non-profit organization in Burundi, which aims to help young children who are homeless and those with HIV/AIDS. The organization helps to pay their school fees. My hope is that they will become disciples of Christ who will impact their nation and the world despite their background. I only have 10 children I am supporting now due to finance but they are my greatest pride and joy.

Calling
I grew up in a Christian family in Rwanda and Burundi but never understood salvation. When I was 15, God called me but I was not ready to respond because I wanted to “fit in” like every teenager and mostly because I feared the responsibility and the cost of serving God. When I was 18, I finally decided to answer the call and leave everything behind and at 19 years old I became a preacher going to high schools and youth meetings to share my testimonies and the Gospel. The Lord anointed me and appointed me at 22 years old. I am the youngest ordained minister in my country and I find it an honor as it humbles me to see that the Lord has chosen me and trusted me to serve Him. I have authored two books, and am interested in the intersection between ministry and photography, spoken word & poetry, and social media platforms.

Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical
First, I wanted to go to Moody Bible Institute, however I felt God leading me to Garrett-Evangelical. Second, what attracted me to Garrett-Evangelical was the masters in pastoral care and counseling. Many schools I was looking at were not as strong in pastoral care even if they had counseling programs. I wanted to attend a seminary that will help me grow academically but also give me space to grow individually as I see more of God through fellowship. When I arrived the first day I knew that I made the right decision.

Career Plans
Rwanda is a country that went through horrors in the genocide of 1994 and the memories are still haunting to some even now. I plan to do counseling in Rwanda and to bring counseling ministries in churches in East Africa more broadly. I believe that I have seen many wounded Christians who have not seen a platform to seek healing but also church leaders who haven’t learned of the importance or pastoral care and counseling. Rwandans would benefit greatly from the counseling of trained and equipped church leaders who could help them overcome as survivors.

 

Meet Stanley Giles

DSC 0057Name: Stanley D. Giles

Hometown: Little Rock, AR

Age: 25

Home Church & Denomination: Damascus Spiritual Church, Non-Denominational

Degree: B.S. in Business Administration from Alabama State University

Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year: MDiv, 2nd year

Background Information
I’m a lover of good food and traveling. In my spare time I enjoy reading autobiographies, watching documentaries and writing poetry. I’d like to say that I’m your “average Joe” for the most part.

Calling
Since childhood, I have been heavily involved in the life of the church. I’ve done everything from singing in the youth choir to preaching on youth Sundays. At an early age, I was told by my church family that I would one day become a preacher. Unsure of my calling and apprehensive about the responsibilities associated with the role of a minister, I sought to pursue other vocations where I felt I would be more comfortable – counselor, school teacher, entrepreneur. But God seems to have a sense of humor!

Being theologically curious is quite a dangerous thing. When you find yourself wanting to know more about God and God’s relation to the human condition, you may make interesting decisions like applying to seminary. It is my curiosity that helps to inform my calling. I believe that God made me naturally inquisitive about the things of the Divine, and thus, knew that I would come seeking answers. As I am able to learn and uncover the things of God and the human condition, I want to educate clergy and laypersons on how to minister effectively to a hurting world. I hope to do so through the church and the academy.

Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical
My attraction to Garrett began with the consistency and the concern of the admissions staff. They always seemed to be available to answer questions that I had about the application process and the school as a whole. Garrett Evangelical’s ability to foster a communal atmosphere is another reason that I decided to pursue my theological education here. In addition to perceiving Garrett-Evangelical as a place where I could be spiritually nurtured in a community of faith, I recognized that the institution’s faculty was both distinguished and diverse. And I guess having Lake Michigan in the backyard didn’t hurt, either.

Career Plans
I have witnessed my career plans alter slightly over the course of the past year. I came in with the absolute intention of going into the academy and occasionally preaching and teaching in the church. After taking my Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling course, I developed a deeper interest in the human condition and the various stages that we all encounter in life. I plan to do some extensive research in this area and hopefully provide clergy and laypersons with some insight into how they can make their faith applicable in such a way that it helps people navigate through the grief, despair and moments of uncertainty they experience in life.

Meet Emily Lutz

2012 Headshot - Emily LutzName: Emily Nicole Lutz

Hometown: Dothan, Alabama

Age: 30

Home Church & Denomination: Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Montgomery, Alabama

Degrees: B.A., Psychology, Business Minor, Troy University, Troy, Alabama

M.Div., Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year: Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling (Clinical Track), first year

Background Information 
I am a middle child, a self-proclaimed psychology junkie and a lover of people. I enjoy traveling, experiencing new cultures and people, and building relationships. I love to listen – to music, to stories, to inspiring conversations taking place on the CTA (which do happen, really). I enjoy sports and am a complete sucker for teamwork. I am an introvert who enjoys being with people.

I enjoy reading, and I am inspired by people who tell their own stories of work, life, faith, spirituality, family, struggle, challenge and relationships. I love to watch (and quote) movies, whether romantic comedies, documentaries, sports inspiration films, or socio-political or historical commentaries. I search for God in the world each day through people, nature, and the creative work of each.

Calling
Having spent five years in the nonprofit sector in a cluster of diverse organizations (a faith-based, home repair mission organization, a state-level sexual violence prevention coalition, and a youth mentoring organization), I had learned that my calling was on the ground level of life. My personal call to the Order of Deacon in The United Methodist Church stems from this realization. I am called to work where faith meets life, or in the words of The United Methodist Church, where the church meets the world.

Upon entering my master of divinity program, I understood my call to be at a macro-level: organizations, systems, advocacy, community service and missions. After three years of education, discernment and work in various field placements, I have realized that I am called to a much more personal level of work: pastoral care and clinical counseling.

Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical
I was born in the Midwest and traveled back regularly to visit extended family throughout my life, and I have always felt an affinity for this part of the country. Garrett-Evangelical’s location, not only in the Midwest, but also in the wonderful Chicagoland area initially hooked me. I am also on the deacon ordination track in my conference, and Garrett-Evangelical’s impressive and long-standing commitment to and support of deacons and deacon candidate students was exactly what I was hoping for in a seminary education and community. Having been part of this community for three years now, I could not be more grateful for the many ways I have been challenged and affirmed, both personally and professionally, by my professors and my peers.

In pursuing my clinical counseling degree, I am so fortunate that Garrett-Evangelical sees the important impact and place of this vocation in the church and has garnered partnerships with other academic organizations to offer not only doctoral programs that equip students for licensure, but also a master program for students like me who are not able to pursue education at the doctoral level.

Career Plans
I am pursuing this next master’s degree en route to working as a clinical counselor. At this point, I am still discerning how this plan may manifest, but I know that I am particularly interested in grief and its effects on a person’s psyche and faith, as well as the ways in which faith influences a person’s experiences of grieving. I am looking forward to engaging in this program of study, taking my first unit of clinical pastoral education, listening to the stories of clients, and walking alongside people in their journeys as their counselor. 

Meet Pamela Keys, 3rd Year M.Div. Student

 MG 5895Name: Pamela J. Keys

Hometown: Peekskill, N.Y.

Age: 33

Home Church & Denomination: Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Baptist

Degrees: B.A. in Psychology from Marymount Manhattan College in Manhattan, NYC and Master of Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work in Manhattan, NYC

Garrett-Evangelical Degree Program/Year: MDiv, 3rd year

Background Information
There are many roles that I navigate in my daily life. I am a daughter, sister, friend, colleague, seminarian, and theologian, just to name a few! I am a lover of the arts (especially modern art), dance, and anything that will broaden my cultural competence, such as documentaries, ethnic festivals, lectures, and literature.

Calling
The word calling is a very dynamic word to me because it best encapsulates my spiritual and personal journey, which is never ceasing, never boring, and difficult at times. I am considered a second career student. I previously worked as a psychiatric social worker in Jamaica, Queens, New York for almost six years and before that I worked in a non-profit outpatient program for seniors. During this time, I was active in my church and was eventually invited to be involved in the Minister in Training program facilitated by my pastor, Rev. Dr. Adulphus C. Lacey. My pastor and other mentors, both male and female, continued to insist that I have gifts and a call to ministry and I should attend seminary.

Fast-forward to 2013, I have discovered since being at Garrett-Evangelical, despite my starch resistance, I am called to be a minister of the Gospel. Through my preaching class with Dr. Fowler, I discovered I could preach, despite being an introvert. Through my field placement at First Congregational Church of Evanston under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Ann Rosewall, I discovered my love for the congregation, the church, and the surrounding community. In my third year, I excitedly anticipate that through the Holy Spirit, I will obtain further clarity concerning the next puzzle of my calling.

Attraction to Garrett-Evangelical
When I visited Garrett-Evangelical on a bright, sunny, yet windy day, I felt a deep sense of peace as I toured the campus, spoke with the admission's staff, and listened to a lecture. My prayer, at the time, was that I would have a deep sense of peace concerning which seminary would suit me best and the only place that fell in that category was Garrett-Evangelical. The second part of my prayer was, “God, a tuition scholarship please!” As usual, God was faithful because I received a call from Rev. Becky Eberhart, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, saying I had received a scholarship.

I remain attracted to Garrett-Evangelical because of the brilliant professors who are not only professors, but know how to be pastoral and gracious in their dealing with students. I am also thankful for the variety of people I have had the humble privilege to meet from Garrett-Evangelical and Northwestern University who have helped shaped the person I am today.

Career Plans
I never thought I would utter these words, but I can envision myself in a church setting preaching, teaching, and doing pastoral counseling. I have a friend from my small group in Vocational Formation and Church Leadership (VFCL) at Garrett-Evangelical who once stated this profound phrase, “Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to God.” My social work skills, degrees, and love for intercultural awareness are and will continue to be utilized in my future vocation. I also have a budding desire to minister on a global level, but I am still trying to discern this aspect of my call and vocation.

I love this verse from Isaiah 55:8, which keeps me grounded and hopeful for my future and for the community around me, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways," declares the LORD.”

Meet Jake Ohlemiller

DSC 0046Hometown: Suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri

Home Church: First United Methodist Church, West Lafayette Indiana

Degree Program: Master of divinity, first year

Other Degrees: B.S., agricultural engineering

Formative Experiences: I grew up in the St. Louis suburbs, but my spiritual home is First United Methodist Church of West Lafayette, Indiana, which I attended while studying at Purdue University. Shortly before I earned my degree, I felt God calling me to a vocation in pastoral ministry.

Experiences at Garrett-Evangelical: I'm deeply grateful for the vibrant student/faculty community I've found at Garrett-Evangelical, and I have grown closer to God through the many friendships that have sustained me here. Studying theology has given an authentic and deep-rooted voice to my sense of vocation, and I have enjoyed gaining powerful new ways to articulate my faith to a hurting world.

Calling: My call to ministry is deeply connected to a sense of place. After seeing the decayed state of many rural communities in Indiana, I hope that God will use my life to nurture life-giving relationships between people, their neighbors, and the soil.

My favorite class this year: Of particular transformational value was my "Introduction to the Old Testament" course, taught by Cheryl Anderson. As we took a critical approach to the Hebrew Scriptures, I found that my faith in the biblical witness did not suffer, but actually matured!

UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.